The Trouble With Troubleshooting for DevOps and Developers
A recent survey says that developers list troubleshooting as their most frequently-worked on task...and they're not happy about it.
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The life of a developer has been catapulted to the forefront of popular culture in recent years with the rise of shows like Silicon Valley and Mr. Robot. We see the famous images of young men and women changing the world with each tap of the keyboard. It’s a glamorized and fictional view of what it means to code or be a developer.
And yes, while the activities of the job that involve breaking boundaries and innovating are what developers love to do, the truth is they often aren’t able to prioritize them because of one obstacle: troubleshooting. The same goes for other tech teams like DevOps and web product managers (WPMs).
Troubleshooting the Day Away
In a recent study, SolarWinds asked DevOps, developers, and WPMs to shed light on how they spend their days. On average, troubleshooting application issues is the number one activity on which these technology professionals spend their time. Specifically, 53% of DevOps teams agree troubleshooting app issues is the top task completed on any given day. Developers rank it as the second most completed task at 52% (behind writing and cleaning up code). WPMs place it third at 39% (behind planning/strategizing future technology innovations and managing end-user experience).
So, what does this mean if troubleshooting takes up most of the day for these tech pros? For starters, there is less time for important priorities like building product roadmaps—all three groups listed this task as one that would be prioritized if troubleshooting was removed from the equation.
In a world without troubleshooting, DevOps would also prioritize managing and deploying apps and developers could plan and strategize future tech innovations. All of these important tasks should be part of daily routines for these tech pros.
What’s Love Got to Do With It?
While it’s important to explore the dichotomy between day-to-day reality and business priorities, it’s also important to remember the human element — the raison d'être for today’s cloud-based technology professionals. We know that troubleshooting detracts from business priorities, but does it actually take time away from being able to do the parts of the job they love?
According to the survey results, WPMs love building product roadmaps. DevOps and developers love managing and deploying apps, and developers also love managing end-user experience and planning and strategizing future technology innovation. Not one of these tasks makes it into the top three day-to-day elements of the job when troubleshooting is in the mix.
Worse, when asked about the parts of the job they disliked the most, these tech pros on average place troubleshooting app issues within their top three. Try doing something you dislike every single day.
With this reality in mind, it’s not hard to imagine what might happen to any professional if his or her day were filled with unfavorable tasks while beloved elements of the job are put on the back burner.
The results of the survey show that DevOps, WPMs, and developers all chose to pursue their roles because of the ability to solve real problems and make an impact on the business or customers. They also said they would leave their jobs if there is no room for advancement or if the work becomes too repetitive or boring — a troubling statistic given the amount of troubleshooting and lack of proactivity in current day-to-day roles.
Getting Back to It
Taking all of this into consideration, the outlook certainly does not have to look grim for DevOps, developers, and WPMs. It’s not that every day is full of troubleshooting and nothing else they love to do; it’s merely that troubleshooting gets in the way of maximizing the full potential of these roles.
Businesses should take this hindrance into consideration since it puts their technology professionals at risk of losing motivation or drives them to find another job as troubleshooting tasks continue to grow. To fully maximize the value of today’s technology professionals, they must have the tools in place to automate troubleshooting.
Consider the application stack. At the very top is the end-user experience — for WPMs to troubleshoot effectively, they should use tools for user experience monitoring. DevOps teams can use metrics tools to understand backend infrastructure processes and gauge performance of critical dependencies in one view.
Similarly, tracing technology will show communication between services and systems, and pinpoint where critical performance issues may arise. The ability to analyze granular logs helps DevOps identify bottlenecks or performance issues, while live tailing provides a view of systems in action for immediate remediation by developers.
With the ability to automate and streamline troubleshooting at each layer of the stack, WPMs, DevOps teams, and developers can get back to doing the parts of the job that will move the business forward, and the parts of the job they love the most. At the end of the day, businesses will be more successful, tech employees will be happier, and innovation can thrive.
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